|On Oct.13, 2005, Lexington police pursued a man suspected of dealing drugs into the breezeway of an apartment complex. During their pursuit, they passed the residence of Hollis King and thought the smell of marijuana smoke emanated from it. They knocked on his door, identified themselves and asked to enter his home.They then heard movement within the apartment, at which point they broke down his door. Police explained that their warrantless and forcible entry into his apartment was triggered by sounds they believed to be consistent with the destruction of incriminating evidence.
In 2010, the Kentucky Supreme Court honorably defended our right to be free from warrantless searches when it invalidated the police actions that resulted in King’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
But in May, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the state’s justices and essentially declared that police may forcibly enter homes without a warrant should they hear noises within that are consistent with the destruction of evidence. The court declined to share the auditory standards
by which such destruction is to be legally judged.
Four days before that decision, the Indiana Supreme Court declared that its citizens had no right to resist illegal police entry into their homes. By eliminating a right that dates back to the ratification of the Magna Carta in 1215, the court’s decision gives Indiana’s armed agents the authority to enter any home anytime without just or proper cause.
Indiana residents are now shackled by vain legalisms and left helpless to endure the violence of state abuse while being told to seek redress from the very court system that deprived them of their rights. The mindless irony of the court’s directives defy ridicule.
These despicable rulings are thrown at us by unelected, unaccountable despots who aim to strangle all life from one of our most cherished liberties. They almost fully destroy the sacred right to peaceable sanctuary within the home, a right deemed so fundamental to the enjoyment of human freedom that it is enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
These injuries from judicial arrogance are compounded by the follies of politicians who exploit legitimate fear of violent crime, while pursuing the ruthless criminalization of non-violent, victimless behaviors.
Declaring specific wars against drugs, crime and terror, they relentlessly assault the freedom and safety of all citizens with the most lethal agents of state power — agents they and their courts have authorized to deprive us of our liberties and lives without mercy or consequence.
Today, there are more than 4,450 separate federal crimes and an estimated 300,000 federal regulations that carry criminal penalties. Honorable citizens who wish to serve and protect their neighbors as police officers are being militarized by government mandates that require the oppression of we the people.
About 200 paramilitary SWAT raids are conducted in the United States every day. One recent attack was aimed at collecting delinquent student loans, and most are directed at non-violent suspects.
The United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population and 23 percent of its prisoners, is the world’s largest jailer. Almost half of all inmates are jailed for non-violent offenses. There are almost as many adult black men in jail as in college, and 70 percent of our prison population is non-white.
Incarcerations have quadrupled since 1980 and are fueling explosive growth within a correctional industrial complex that wields dangerous predatory influence within our politics. Across the border, the lives of 35,000 Mexicans have been sacrificed on the altar of our drug war since 2006.
We are being taxed to support the expansion of a voracious police state that is stopping, searching, jailing and Tasing our liberties into extinction. Divine freedoms ransomed with the blood of our ancestors are becoming the begrudged permissions of authoritarian zealots who aim to patrol every aspect of our lives.
Abolishing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes and ending the war on drugs as part of a comprehensive program of justice reform would serve freedom well.
By: W. Bryan Hubbard
W. Bryan Hubbard is a Lexington lawyer and former Herald-Leader community columnist.